Learning how to breath deeply in a healthy way through a breathing or meditation practice can:
- Help manage pain
- Reduce loneliness, anxiety and stress
- Improve respiratory efficiency
- Strengthen immune response
- Enhance peace, joy and engagement in life
- Increases mental and physical alertness.
- Reduces and releases muscular tension
Remember that old song “The hip bone is connected to the thigh bone…?” Well, it’s true that everything is connected. The systems of the body are not separate. The health of our breath affects every system of the body in some way.
The way you breathe also affects the patterns of your thoughts. If you are breathing shallowly and rapidly your mind will follow. Shallow breathing triggers your sympathetic response system (your fight or flight system). For example, imagine someone approaching from behind at night. You jump, lift our shoulder up, and take a quick shallow inhale of breath. This is fear, and it triggers a fear response. The body triggers that system any time you are breathing shallowly, because it thinks you are in a stressful situation or might need to react quickly. In addition, the mind starts racing looking for threats and possible solutions.
When you breathe deeply and fully, your mind calms, and your thoughts are clearer. When you breathe deeply, the body triggers its parasympathetic system, which then releases calming chemicals into your body. A common example would be when you get angry and someone suggests you “count to ten”. The idea is to breathe deeply and slowly while counting to ten in order to trigger the chemical system in the body that will calm the body and angry thoughts. You can feel the calming affects as you slow down and deepen your breath.
If you can be more aware of the depth of your breath, you can be more in control of your state of mind, which in turn, will affect the body. The benefit of being aware of what’s happening in your body and what’s happening with your breath is that you have more perceived control. By this I mean that when you feel something happening in your body you can pay attention to your breath, change its rhythm and then watch how it affects your body.
Practicing deep breathing with your loved ones and those you may be working with will help to create new patterns of healthy breathing that will affect your overall wellbeing and theirs.[Image Credit: http://www.dlshealthworks.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/breathe_deeply1.jpg]
Kelly Sheets is the founder of TheSpunkyCaregiver.com. Kelly is a consultant who focuses on staff development for seniors care organizations. Her other passion is teaching yoga to seniors which led to her publishing her book How To Lead Meditation Groups For Seniors. She feels that everyone should have an understanding of how to breath in a healthy way. To read more about healthy breathing and how to help others to breathe well, you can find her book at www.thespunkycaregiver.com or on Amazon.